For a bakery fat or shortening to meet today’s nutritional targets, it must be free of trans fatty acids and lower in saturated fats or contain selected levels of specific unsaturated fatty acids. In this exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A, solutions to these formulating challenges are described by Monica Zelaya-Brown, customer innovation manager; Jessica Blackford, research scientist; and Jackie Steffey, product development scientist — all with AarhusKarlshamn USA, Inc. (AAK), Edison, NJ.

Baking & Snack: As the new generation of trait-enhanced oils moved into commercial use, how well have they been accepted by bakery and snack users?

Jessica Blackford: Acceptance of trait-enhanced oils and shortening/fats made with these oils is steadily on the rise as the market is in search for solutions that are not only functional but also designed to meet specific nutritional targets, which include trans-fatty acid free, lower saturates or with selected levels of specific unsaturated fatty acids.

These solutions are geared to deliver high stability, help extend shelf life and also provide structure and texture to bakery and snack items without compromising their quality.

What are the pros, and cons, that your customers report?

Monica Zelaya-Brown: Usually, blends of trait-enhanced oils are chosen to design solutions that target specific nutritional claims along with delivering or improving on expected functionality. While cost is not necessarily prohibitive, the market understands that some solutions will come at a premium or slightly higher price. Availability of unique blends will increase as the market demand rises, and application expertise will be continually expanded to deliver on customized solutions.

What’s next to come down the pipeline in soy, canola, sunflower and palm?

Ms. Zelaya-Brown: According to market insights, future trends will include mid-oleic soybean oil within the portfolio of low-saturated solutions; plant-based omega-3, -6 and -9 oils with enhanced nutritional profiles and anti-oxidative properties and high-stearic-acid-containing oils as an option to partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) or saturated fats because the oil would possess a creamy texture.

What do bakers need to know about fatty acid profiles of these oils to help them optimize their ingredient choices?

Jackie Steffey: To formulate healthy, good-tasting, high-quality baked good and snacks, more than just replacing a solid fat with an oil is required. Baked goods formulas are complex and relay on the fat to provide structure, which affects the eating characteristics and the texture of the products. Even though product designers are hoping for a drop-in solution, this is not always the case. While using trait-enhanced oils may help improve shelf life — i.e., providing more resistance to auto-oxidation — the entire formula will still need to be optimized to deliver on the desired shelf life.

With some trans-fat-free alternatives, the mixing time may be decreased due to the presence of liquid oil in the shortening, but the whole end application formula will need to be assessed in regards to structuring ingredients such as emulsifiers. Other solutions will not be as temperature tolerant, calling for best storage practices and the need for a bake-stable texturant. In summary, working with solutions that contain trait-enhanced oils is subject to the same formulation considerations as any other standard solution.

What products does AAK have in its fats and oils portfolio that offer customized solutions to market demands?

Ms. Zelaya-Brown: Flaked shortening solutions — the Akosoy, Akocot and Neutresca product lines — are examples of the portfolio of innovative solutions that help improve flakiness of baked products without the traditional roll-in process and help create a softer crumb structure.

Biscuits require a tender crust with a flaky mouth feel and a light fluffy texture. In pizza, these products help open the structure in the crust, becoming tender on the inside and crispy on the bottom. Flaked shortenings help maintain characteristics during multiple freeze/thaw cycles and allow incorporation of flavors, such as butter or cinnamon. Roll-in sweet goods and pastries can be easily formulated, where numerous air pockets are created to lend the finished goods the desired tender, flaky texture.

Additionally, these products ensure an even distribution of flavor throughout the application, preserving flavor, freshness and enhancing stability. Their flaked form, available in different sizes, thickness and custom flavors, helps improve handling and processing efficiencies. These flakes are also available in trans-fat-free options.

Novel solutions from the Akobake and Akocream portfolios have been developed to meet market demands. Akobake MP is a premium, multi-purpose bakery fat suitable for a variety of applications, such as biscuits, cookies and crackers, but also suitable for water-containing, soft cream fillings. The product delivers a clean and neutral taste and helps enhance shelf life, as well as reduce overall migration. Akocream products help achieve a cleaner and longer fresh tasting quality in the final product. For excellent aeration properties and increased freshness, Akocream S100 is the choice. The Akocream portfolio also offers low-saturated, non-hydrogenated options.